The spirit of scientific optimism that drives Disney’s new adventure film is real, says Tomorrowland: A World Beyond director Brad Bird. As recently as the 1970s it was sending men to the Moon, and can do so again

In this fascinating behind-the-scenes video, we join Bird and his stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie as they visit the rocket launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Come on, how great is this?” Bird says as he sets up an adventure sequence in the shadow of the skyscraper-sized launch platform, used since 1973 to blast America’s astronauts into space.

“We’re filming a scene where [lead character] Casey is trying to sabotage a platform. Her father works for Nasa and she wants the missions to continue, so she decides to slow down the dismantling of the space programme.

“It’s amazing for me, because I’ve been around long enough to remember when astronauts were regularly going into space. It was a real point of pride as an American. I remember being a kid when we landed on the Moon, and thinking human beings can do something amazing if they set their mind to it.”

The video shows the Tomorrowland: A World Beyond crew receiving incredible news while filming at Nasa: they will personally witness the launch of the Maven spacecraft to Mars.

Clooney jokes: “I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been around for a few rocket launches.” However, the expression of awe on his face as the 190ft-high Atlas V rocket blasts into the Florida sky shows that science still has the power to amaze.

“President John F Kennedy said that we were going to get to the Moon by the end of the 1960s,” Bird says. “And we did it. It was about reaching out, going away from the planet, going out to other things. We were assuming that the future was bright. Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is asking the question: ‘What’s happened to that kind of optimism? Can it come back?’ ”

COMPETITION: Win astronaut training at Space Camp USA

• Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer here »

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